Northern leaders call for strategic approach to transport and energy

A more strategic approach to transport, energy, trade and investment is needed in the north to help the UK achieve its net zero ambitions, local leaders will say today (29 February).

Almost 1,000 leaders from across the North’s business, political and education institutions will meet today at the annual Convention of the North to thrash out a manifesto for the North to present to political parties ahead of the upcoming General Election.   

The plans could include proposals to fast-track bus franchising to make services quicker, cheaper and more reliable, creating a Northern energy strategy to harness the power of renewables that could heat and power the entire region, and a strategic approach to funding railways including getting Northern Powerhouse Rail built.

The Convention comes as new and deeper devolution deals are signed across the region, with over 13 million people – or 90% of the North’s population – set to live in an area with a directly-elected mayor. This means that decision-making power on issues such as transport, energy, investment and placemaking will reside much closer to where people live.

Announcing that the first ever Northern Mayors and Leaders Summit will be held this Summer, partners will urge the next government to work with them to deliver a Manifesto “of the North, for the North, by the North”, in partnership with the private sector and across regional boundaries.

According to data published by NP11 and Transport for the North, fair funding for the region would enable its economy to grow by £118 billion by 2050, boosting UK growth, delivering over a million jobs, and bringing billions of pounds of extra revenue into the Treasury.

The annual convention in Leeds will also see Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove and Shadow Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner address the Convention of the North tomorrow (1 March) and will face calls to back the manifesto in this pivotal General Election year.

Speaking with one “unified voice for the North”, Northern leaders will urge the next government to work with them on plans to grow the regional economy by over £100 billion and deliver a million new jobs by 2050.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “Northerners pay their taxes too. Yet while they see world-class infrastructure built elsewhere, our plans are the first to get downgraded or derailed, from HS2 to Leeds to Northern Powerhouse Rail through Bradford.

“With the North set to become England’s first truly devolved region, we have a historic opportunity to turn the tide and build a stronger, better-connected, greener and more vibrant North for the over 13 million people we represent as mayors.

“But to do that, we need the fair investment our people deserve. That’s what I’ll be urging Michael Gove and Angela Rayner for when I see them tomorrow, and that’s what our Manifesto for the North will deliver – practical yet radical plans to yank the UK’s economy out of neutral and deliver on our shared vision for a brighter North.”

Clare Hayward, Chair of NP11, said: “When looking for resilience and leadership, the North has a strong story to tell. Our regional leaders and businesses have big ambitions to work more collaboratively and closely with our neighbours, while also competing internationally. Over the course of this year’s Convention of the North, I am certain that we will hear opinion from across the region and a range of different experiences.

“The NP11 has produced compelling research and evidence into the strength of clusters across the North, showcasing how regional strengths have the potential to flourish rapidly and make the UK an influential economic leader in the coming years and decades.

“The North is an entrepreneurial, inspired and outward looking region, leading the way in developing green and digital technologies that will shape our future. The region has immense potential, just waiting to be unlocked, because a better North, means a better country.” 

Image from Shutterstock

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